This article is about 8 ways you can damage your kids mental, physical and emotional health before they reach the age of 18. Damage can occur in many ways and it’s our responsibility to address it the right way.
Where Does Trauma Begin?
Kids are resilient.
They bounce back, find fun in unusual places and somehow make it to 18 years old seemingly unscathed.
That is, until the unresolved trauma reoccurs in their adult years. Poor trust leading to relationship problems, highly stressful events leading to therapy and a lack of confidence due to body dysmorphia. All the damage has been done and now it’s time for damage control rather than them building a foundation on top of where they left off.
If you’ve ever been a subject of trauma, poor physical health or, developed avoidant or anxious attachments issues, you will know all about this. Damage rears its head at different points of our life. We may have emotional breakdowns in our 20s, relationships issues in our 30s and physical deformities in our 40s…
So when is the damage actually occurring?
It’s occurring earlier than you think.
How Does It Begin?
You will see from the list I will display below, that there are a lot of ways we can ultimately ‘damage’ a child. When this all occurs is from before you even realise they are conscious of it.
Kids are so much more intelligent than many of us give them credit for. It’s not necessarily that they will school us with Einstein’s equations (not all of them anyway…), but that they will register what’s going on in the universe and attempt to make sense of it. That is why we have to be more conscious of the context we say and do things.
An article from the Child Mind Institute accounts that, “Traumatized kids often see things in the worst light. They may think they’re bad kids. Or that people are out to get them. They may be so afraid of making mistakes that they won’t try an activity at all. They need help to see that that they’re good kids who deserve to do well.”
In this article, we will cover the four key pillars of a healthy and purposeful family; Move (exercise), Eat (nutrition), Love (connection) and Think (mindfulness). Or what I like to call it ‘MELT’.
8 Ways To Damage Your Kids
1. Answer For Them
If you’ve ever found yourself interrupting a conversation or jumping in to answer before your little legend does, or not allowing them to correct their own mistake, you are damaging them.
The key to creating an insecure and unconfident adolescent and then adult is to answer for them. If you want to fastrack poor communication skills and the confidence to speak to others or in public, answer their questions for them. This can be when someone asks them how school is, or what they are doing on the weekend. Simple questions that can sometimes feel like an ETERNITY for them to answer, but that’s because their brains aren’t as developed as ours. They aren’t going to be able to recall memory or produce rational thought at the same speed.
This goes for answering what they want to do later in life. That is their decision, that will probably change over time, but it is their decision.
2. Don’t Let Them communicate Openly
This one is similar to the last but also incredibly different. This one damages the situation from an emotional level.
If you inhibit the ability for them to speak openly about new ideas, about feelings and emotions, this will damage them. If you find yourself saying “that sounds like stupid idea…” often, you are damaging them.
The idea might be silly. Like “why don’t we just visit the sun during the winter when it’s less hot…” Instead of saying, “have you lost your sweet mind!”. Approach the situation with; “that’s a great thought Jordan, why don’t we check the sun’s winter temperatures first and see if it is cool enough to get there.” This way we validate that they had a really creative thought and that is fantastic, but we also don’t break their heart or shut them down when they do their own research into the answers.
The more open you are, the more self-regulatory our children become.
3. Be a Huge Bundle of Stress
Think you’re taking the stress off them? You are not.
You are radiating.
Stress is like the sun, it’s hottest inside the star but it still radiates heat out to Earth. It may feel like you are doing all the hard work and sheltering it all from everyone else and I can guarantee you are doing a great job of it. However, people with high amounts of empathy and kids are very good at picking up on it.
Life is stressful. However, it is meant to be and that is perfectly okay.
The best we can do is to practice our coping mechanisms and finding areas to remove stress. If we don’t clear and repair the damage, that’s when our problems really kick in. Mindfulness, exercise and gratitude practices, like the one I teach habitually in my course, will allow you to remove stress from your life whilst only taking 5-10 minutes a day. You don’t know how one little, stressful comment can be damaging to cause trauma.
4. A Diet With Too Many Rules
Kids love sugar, we love sugar, we should not remove sugar completely from out diet.
During the early stages of our lives, we should not be trying intense diets like keto, fasting or any other restrictive protocols. We need to be explorative in what we eat. The more our kids can try, the better off they will be at making their own decisions, exploring different tastes, likes and dislikes, and the less chance they will be at developing food intolerances.
Exploring food is the best way to fight back against our arch nemesis, the ‘fussy eater’. The one that contributes the most damage to us!
5. A Diet With No Rules
This may sound contradictory to the last one, but it’s actually not.
Like I said, we need to explore foods. But we don’t need to explore them every second of every day, and especially not exploring them just before dinner!! To remove the damage of a poor diet, it’s important to prioritise the right food.
As a nutrition coach, I love creating mini-rules, especially ones that can be rewarding. “If you don’t 30 minutes before dinner, you get to have an extra scoop of ice-cream after”. This ensures we are filling them up with all the healthy vitamins and minerals at our healthy family dinner, and just filling in the gaps afterwards.
6. Don’t Exercise
Skip exercise and skip any positive growth and development you want for your muscles, bones, brains, mental health, physical health, confidence, engagement and many more…
This also includes you, the parent. If you don’t exercise, forget about creating quality memories and welcome the hospital bed where you will engage in hip and knee replacements and a case of being a nursing case for the rest of your life when you turn elderly.
Not putting in the work early will bring on one of the fastest growing conditions right now in youth and adolescents, paediatric dynapenia. You can read my article about how big the condition is and how we can stop it.
7. Don’t Work on Your Own Goals
“Do what I say, not as I do”
We absolutely don’t want to be working on improving our own self. Walking directionless through life, never stopping to smell the roses that we have seeded, nurtured and blossomed. That itself is damage control for our mental health.
What was the last goal you wrote out? What was the last big goal did you accomplish?
If it didn’t make you nervous and question your own sanity when you thought about it, it probably wasn’t big enough!
If you want to lose weight and haven’t even attempted it real vigour and ferocity, than how can we expect our kids to go out there and do it all for themselves! Your kids need role models, and if you believe that there is a lack of them out there, we need to make the effort ourselves.
Which leads me to me last point…
8. Complain and Take No Responsibility
This one is one of my favourites. When you take responsibility for your own actions, you start living life on your own terms. You start controlling the damage and remove it from the equation. But first we must accept we have taken our own damage and trauma over time.
“When you complain, you make yourself into a victim” – Eckhart Tolle
If you start complaining, our kids will follow. You start being proactive and taking responsibility, you will demonstrate what a fully functioning adult who has their suit together will do.
What You Can Do Now
Life is stressful. Let’s start by treating ourselves with compassion. To get to the top of where we need to be, the bottom of the pyramid is always recognising where we are right now.
If you don’t have the foundation and the proper skills, you can expect to fall a long way from the top and really damage yourself and others. We are all expecting a big ‘pill’ to fix all our problems to be the happy, healthy family.
I’ve worked in this industry for over 10 years and worked with thousands of clients. The ones who do well, act on this list every single day and build the foundation for who they want to be.
We must start with ourself.
You deserve to look after yourself.
Until next time,
P.S. EMAIL [email protected] RIGHT NOW TO SECURE A FREE STRATEGY CALL TO HELP YOU MASTER YOUR LIFE FOR THE HAPPY, HEALTHY FAMILY